Yesterday, I posted on twitter and FB that I really “like that Charles Ramsey fellow.” For those of you living under a rock, Charles Ramsey is the man who pried open a door to help kidnap victim Amanda Berry (and ultimately two other women and a young child) escape from a decade long kidnapping ordeal in Cleveland, Ohio that is so completely awful that I don’t even want to write about it and I almost decided to do laundry while simultaneously poking my eyes out instead. But alas, here I am anyway because I am a dedicated blogger. If you want to learn the specifics surrounding the horrors that the women went through go ahead and do so, I won’t be posting any case specifics here. I will provide some links at the bottom of the page. But be forewarned, the triggers are many. It’s so awful that I literally feel sick from researching it.
Now back to Mr Ramsey.
Other than Amanda Berry’s total badassery at being able to initiate the escape and the fact that all women have survived this absolutely horrific ordeal, Charles Ramsey is the only other speck of good in this tragic story.
Scroll down for more.
When he heard screaming that he thought it was a domestic abuse situation he did something. Let me reinforce that. He did what often times people are afraid or conditioned NOT to do. He stepped up and helped in what appeared to be a private situation. It’s called bystander intervention and Amanda Marcotte has a written a post about it.
Quote from Marcotte’s article:
I’ll be blunt: Most of us, sadly, do not react to perceived domestic violence this way. When we think what we’re seeing is domestic violence, most of us turn and look the other way, not because we approve of it, but because we still tend to think of it as “personal” business that we should stay out of. Often, we’re understandably afraid that intervening will put us in danger or that the victim will turn on us, because sadly that is often exactly what happens. So we look the other way.
But not Charles Ramsey. He did not look the other way. He did something and even after this act he does not even consider himself a hero. He did what he felt any “decent man” would do.
He stated that he is not a hero, he is an American. “It is what it is, bro.”
Now, back to my post on twitter about how I really liked that Ramsey fellow.
Soon after I posted that, I was informed that Charles Ramsey wasn’t such a good guy. It seems he spent 6 months in prison for domestic violence convictions. He has three convictions that resulted in two separate prison terms.
Does this change things? Does the man who stepped up when he was truly needed and helped save four abused women still get to be a hero when he himself is a convicted abuser? Is this act evidence that he has changed?
In his words: (full disclosure I quoted below from TMZ but it seems legit.)
I’ve made amends with the people involved and we’ve all moved on and grown up.
Those incidents helped me become the man I am today and are the reason why I try to help the community as much as I can … Including those women.
If I had so much hatred for women, I would have minded my own business this week and walked away instead of risking my life to save someone else.
And from TMZ:
For her part, Ramsey’s ex-wife says Charles eventually apologized for the domestic incidents and the two are now on an “okay basis.”
Is it even reasonable for us to dig into this man’s past at all? Is it beneficial in any way? Will this digging by the media and yes, even bloggers like myself scare away other people from getting involved the next time someone screams for help?
By all accounts Ramsey did the right thing in a shining moment of bravery. He has even reportedly turned down the reward money, saying instead it should be given to “those girls.”
It has been pointed out to me that this story of Charles Ramsey is indeed a nuanced and multilayered tale. I haven’t event touched on the sad state of race relations in America that is illustrated in all of this. Or how the media is treating Ramsey because he is a black man (yes, he is treated differently than if he were white) or how Ramsey himself talks about “pretty white women running into a black man’s arms” only happening in dire situations or the fact that “a pretty white girl” would never be in a latino man’s home. That part of the story would take an entire post in itself.
So for now I will just leave you with these questions: Does it matter that Charles Ramsey was himself an abuser of women? Is he still a hero that we can point to as a positive example? Is he even a hero at all or just a guy who did something right? If we can’t hope for and trust in the change and growth of individual people than how can we ever make the social changes we and other activists are fighting for? And ultimately, do we need heroes or just a lot more decent human beings?
Fucked-up trigger-filled info about the kidnapping case:
Who is who in this case.
Ariel Castro the main kidnapper pretended to help look for one of the missing girls.
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.